Basic Questions Types

The basic question types are used to collect data from or display information to the interviewer or respondent. The other question types are discussed in the ADVANCED PREPARE SPECIFICATIONS section. Data entry type questions display the text and, where appropriate, the possible response list on the screen and collect data. Display type question displays text only, no data is collected.

NOTE1: Using the long keywords makes the options non-positional.  Commas are not needed as placeholders for all question types.

NOTE2: Using the abbreviations makes the options positional and commas are needed as placeholders for all question types.

Question Types

  • Display
  • Field
  • Numeric
  • Text
  • Variable


DISPLAY questions are used to display screens of text without expecting a data response.

Examples: Interviewer instructions, Messages


Field questions consist of question text and pre-defined responses. With FIELD questions the actual response is placed in the data. They may be single or multiple response. In addition, disk-based FIELD questions allow multiple screens and up to 10,000 return codes. The maximum data width is 5000.

Examples: State codes (CA,NY,TX), Rating scales, Products used.


Numeric questions are used when the response can be a number within a range. The numeric value of the response is placed in the data. The response is controlled by a range and a few exception codes. The maximum data width is 16.

Examples: Number in household, Miles driven, Price, Percentage.


Text questions are for long open-ended responses or for extremely variable length open-ended responses. Up to 5000 characters may be entered per TEXT question. You can control the size of the response area (i.e., you can define a box for the answer that will allow fewer characters). The actual response is placed in the data at the end of the data file in compressed format. A full-screen editor is used for data input on monitors; terminals use a line editor.

Examples: General likes/dislikes, Other products, Comments.


Variable questions are for short, controlled length, open-ended responses. The actual response is placed in the data and it can be from 1 to 5000 characters long. (Note: VARIABLE statements will only store 76 columns of data in terminal mode). You control the minimum and maximum number of characters to be typed.

Examples: Name, Address, Email address, Phone number.